I'm Stephie D and I caught crocodiles in Belize for research. Ask Me Anything!

Stephie D
Jun 12, 2017

I went out to a tiny island in Belize and helped a researcher catch crocodiles in the dead of night...in the ocean. We had to bring them in the boat to tag, sex and measure them. Ask me your questions!

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What question do you hate to answer?

Jun 12, 5:34PM EDT1

None that I can think of!

Jun 12, 6:19PM EDT1

Hi Stefie! Had you been invited to catch crocodiles?

Jun 11, 2:09AM EDT1

Hi!

actually it was through a conservation group where you can join in on their trips. I love Belize and had been a few times before so I made it into a kind of volunteer/vacation thing. It wasn't cheap but it was totally worth it.  I had originally signed up to catch and tag sharks but they didn't have enough people. I was fortunate to actually be the only volunteer on the croc trip and there were only about 7 people on the island the whole time. That's what I love about Belize! The name of the conservation place escapes me at the moment...sorry!

Jun 11, 4:14PM EDT1

Do you like only wild animals?

Jun 11, 12:00AM EDT1

Hi Miss Rachel,

I've done dog sitting when I was traveling and I've taken in stray dogs while in Central America before. I had a dog when I was a teenager but I was never around much so my parents gave him away. Other than that, I've only ever owned snakes and iguanas. Not a huge fan of owning domesticated animals, but I do like all animals!

Jun 11, 4:16PM EDT1

Hello Stefie! What's your major?

Jun 10, 1:48PM EDT1

Hi Rebecca, my major was in programming.

Jun 10, 11:48PM EDT1

Do you have any future plans concerning your work with animals?

Jun 10, 1:35PM EDT1

Hi Brenda,

yes, I'd like to continue working with wild animals in Australia. On my bucket list, I have fruit bats, crocs, snakes, kangaroos and wallabies, koalas, lizards....oh the list goes on and on! Until then, I continue with my website design business. There aren't many mammals (and no snakes/crocs, etc.) here in New Zealand. I did take care of some baby hedgehogs at my old house for a few weeks though which was fun. They're super cute!

Jun 10, 11:51PM EDT1

Have you travelled a lot?

Jun 10, 6:05AM EDT1

Hi,

Yes, I've been traveling for, well my whole life really...but I started traveling outside of the U.S. seriously in 1994 and visited Central America once or twice a year after that. I've been to something like 13 countries and lived in 5.

Jun 10, 11:52PM EDT1

Have you ever dreamed about opening your own zoo?

Jun 10, 4:15AM EDT1

No, that's a lot of work that you can never really leave and I'm not a huge fan of zoos.

Jun 10, 11:53PM EDT1

How should I look after a wounded racoon? His hind leg is cut with smth

Jun 9, 11:20PM EDT1

Hi Holly,

I would recommend you get in touch with a local wildlife rescue/rehab place and hand it over to them. 

Jun 10, 3:34AM EDT1

Was it hard to catch this crocodile?

Jun 9, 8:03PM EDT1

Well, it was easy because it was mostly in the water so at least he wasn't "heavy." Until we brought him on the boat. He was pretty tired once we got him to that stage and didn't fight. What the researcher did was to snare him around the tip of the neck and pull him over to the boat (or we came to him). He secured the snout with another snare so we could tape the mouth before bringing him on board. There were three of us hauling him in but I don't recall him being all that heavy. I don't recall the weight.

Jun 10, 3:37AM EDT1

What is Belize?

Jun 9, 6:58PM EDT1

Belize is a country in Central America, bordering Mexico and Guatemala and a bit of Honduras. 

Jun 10, 3:37AM EDT1

Do you watch educational programs and films about nature?

Jun 9, 6:52PM EDT1

Yes, all the time! I was fortunate enough to go to Steve Irwin's zoo in Australia...it was amazing!

Jun 10, 3:38AM EDT1

Hello! Do you work with animals in general?

Jun 9, 6:28PM EDT1

Hi! No, I'm actually an I.T. geek. 

Jun 10, 3:38AM EDT1

A crocodile? in an ocean?.... i got lost:-)

Jun 9, 6:17PM EDT1

Yep, salt water crocs. You'll find them throughout Central America. Same in Australia (salties). There are often reports out of Jaco, Costa Rica about surfers being injured by crocs. There are some HUGE ones there!

Jun 10, 3:40AM EDT1

How long have you been doing this?

Jun 9, 5:26PM EDT1

I've volunteered with wild animals for a span of 20 years and I had snakes and iguanas, but it was never my primary occupation. I'd like for it to be, though!

Jun 10, 3:41AM EDT1

Hi! How should you catch a cat which has climbed onto a tree?

Jun 9, 1:04PM EDT1

Hi, well I've never had to do that, but I'm sure you'll find a lot of ideas by doing a google search. 

Jun 10, 3:41AM EDT1

What do you think about wearing fur or reptile skin?

Jun 9, 11:27AM EDT1

Not into it, don't like it, don't approve of it.

Jun 10, 3:41AM EDT1

What did you do after measuring the crocodile?

Jun 9, 11:02AM EDT1

The researcher recorded the sex of the croc (we let him handle that) by sticking his fingers inside the vent. Apparently he could feel if it was a male or not. We also cut the scutes (scales) that stood on its back in a certain configuration and recorded that. There is a main row of tall scutes down the middle of the tail, then a smaller row on either side of that. You trim a bit off of one or two of the tall ones then one of the small ones. The samples were then put in a container for dna testing.

So we recorded where it was caught according to GPS, weight, sex, length and tag. We had also done eye shine recordings and counted how many red eyes we could spot along the mangroves or in the water by shining a very bright light in that direction. We did this for a few hours per night.

Jun 10, 3:45AM EDT1

Have you got pets yourself?

Jun 9, 10:12AM EDT1

Not at the present, but I used to have snakes and iguanas.

Jun 10, 3:46AM EDT1

What is your favourite animal?

Jun 9, 8:58AM EDT1

That's a tough one. I'm a reptile lover at heart, but I also have a real fondness for cephalopods (squid, octos, cuttlefish). I took care of some baby hedgehogs lately and they were neat. Mantis shrimp are incredible creatures too! I'm not sure I can answer that!

Jun 10, 3:47AM EDT1

I want to buy an ocelot. How do I do it?

Jun 9, 8:14AM EDT1

I hope you're kidding. Ocelots shouldn't be kept as pets, IMHO.

Jun 10, 3:48AM EDT1